Managing rates and inventory across a single channel is a difficult task, but this problem is further compounded when the hotel has to manage it for multiple online travel agents. All the responsibility comes on the shoulders of the hotel’s revenue manager (RM)
If you as an RM of the hotel are updating inventory manually across multiple OTAs, then you are missing the opportunity to engage directly with your customers and wasting your precious time, which you could have spent strategizing. Your competition, however, may be doing things differently and may be using the latest technology to manage inventory automatically.
Managing distribution via few clicks is possible; however, there are a few points to consider when choosing a channel manager for your hotel.
Below are some of the features that you as a Revenue Manager should keep on top of your mind before you commit to a channel manager, as once you buy the solution moving to a different one can be an even arduous task.
- Ability to connect with as many channels – Distributing rates and inventory to more channels can lead to higher sales; therefore, your channel manager should be capable enough to distribute your hotel’s inventory to the maximum number of channels, which are most prominent in the market.
- Fast and up to date room inventory administration – Your future channel manager should support a pooled inventory across channels, which will not only reduce your burden to keep allocation updated, but will also increase your hotel’s productivity from all channels by ensuring rate and availability parity.
- Easy linking of multiple room rate of channels to a single product for faster updates –Tapping multiple channels is important, but managing multiple room/rate type combinations is also important. The real test of a channel manager is if it is capable of updating room rates and availability of say hundreds of room and rate combinations at one go. For this, a mapping needs to be done at the channel manager’s end, which must be simple enough to ensure the hotel can do it themselves.
- Ability to connect to desired channels instantly – It is one of the primary requirements for hotels to support numerous online portals. However, it is equally important that adding a new channel is equally easy for a hotel. A user-friendly channel manager should enable easy connection with new distribution channels automatically.
- Contract facilitation with new OTA – While a channel manager may be supporting channels in the source market of a hotel, but if the hotel has no connection with that OTA then the support is futile. A channel manager, therefore, is able to assist by acting as a liaison in such a case between OTA and hotel for contracting purposes. This will surely help the hotel in increasing their spread and thereby creating a demand from a new channel that was not available to them earlier.
- 365 days update with one-click –A modern and advanced channel distribution system should allow update of up to 365 days on all respective channels selected.
- Connectivity with OTA as well as PMS – A comprehensive channel manager should be capable of sending ARI updates (Availability, Rates & Inventory) to OTAs and send a reservation confirmation back to PMS of the hotel.
- Capability to change prices based on allocation change – An effective channel manager should be advanced enough to enable users to create rules, which can change the prices of rooms based on inventory availability. This practice leads to higher revenue generation for the hotel.
- Promotion management – Your prospective channel manager must be able to send promotions to the OTA, so that you stay ahead of your competition. This will save a lot of effort as well as keep all promotions data within a single tool for ease of management and tracking.
- Tax customization per channel – OTAs do not operate and present room rates in the same fashion; some offer room rates inclusive of tax while others will have rates with tax exclusive. A comprehensive channel manager should be able to take care of this aspect. It should allow hoteliers to post rates in one format and the tool should be smart enough to do relevant calculations for tax and post it to the respective extranet sites.
- Support multiple users and properties – Whether you are an independent hotel or an enterprise chain, the selected channel manager should be able to support multiple users for a single property as well as multiple properties for multiple users. Channel manager should have the facility to manage these users as per their applicable rights in the tool.
- OTA throughput analytics – When a hotel sells the majority of its inventory through multiple online channels, then it becomes imperative for revenue managers to evaluate the performance of each of their online distribution channels to comprehend their productivity and revenue coming from each OTA platform thereby assisting RMs in designing a hotel’s revenue management strategy.
- Mobile Access – A channel manager that can be accessed through mobile is not a luxury anymore. Users should be able to update and perform all tasks through mobile version, so as to be updated all the time.
- 24X7 customer support – Your technology solution provider should offer you 24X7 customer support. Even better if a dedicated account manager is assigned to your hotel.
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